Imelda gets an Opera
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The disco dictator of the Philippines gets an opera
By Andrew Gumbel in Los Angeles
Published: 05 February 2007 in The Independent
When David Byrne teams up with Fatboy Slim to write an opera about Imelda Marcos and performs it at Carnegie Hall, New York's temple of high culture, there is perhaps only one possible response - gotta go.
Saturday night's world premiere of Here Lies Love - more of a narrative song cycle, perhaps, than a proper opera - was a sell-out as Byrne, the legendary co-founder of Talking Heads and experimental musician extraordinaire, chit-chatted about the eye-popping excesses of both Imelda and Ferdinand Marcos when they ruled the Philippines from 1965 to 1986.
The show, made up of 23 numbers, told the same story in musical as well as narrative form. "This is not artistic licence, this is reportage," Byrne told the audience.
The Marcoses, to him, were like Jack and Jackie Kennedy - glamorous, powerful, and irresistible. He was particularly intrigued by their lavish spending in the US, whose government was an unstinting ally from first to last.